Saskatoon

'I was jabbing her with an arrow,' recalls Sask. hunter dragged from tree by mother bear

Two thoughts ran through Jeff Haydukewich’s mind as he seized one of his arrows and repeatedly stabbed a mother bear that had him cornered in a spruce tree. The first was of his kids; the second, survival. "This wasn't how I was going out," says Haydukewich.

Jeff Haydukewich was hunting elk by bow and arrow when he encountered bear with 3 cubs

Jeff Haydukewich took this photo of the mother bear from his ultimately precarious perch in a tree stand. (submitted by Jeff Haydukewich)

Two thoughts ran through Jeff Haydukewich's mind Monday evening as he seized one of his arrows and repeatedly stabbed a protective mother bear that had him cornered in a spruce tree.

The first was of his own children; the second, survival.

"This bitch isn't going to take me right now," Haydukewich remembers thinking. "Not like this."

Haydukewich, 39, was bow hunting for elk out of a tree stand about five kilometres east of Weirdale, Sask., when a bear he'd never seen before and her three cubs approached him.

"The cubs were eating at the bait and the sow caught my scent and she started walking up to my tree stand," Haydukewich told CBC News of his hunting trip gone bad.

Haydukewich managed to take some photos of the bear and her cubs before she approached the stand.

Before being attacked by the mother bear, Haydukewich snapped this photo of the sow and her three cubs. (submitted by Jeff Haydukewich)

He says when he yelled at the bear to go away, she immediately came up to the stand and grabbed his arm. She pulled him to the ground and began mauling him.

'She kept coming at me'

Haydukewich made it back up the stand but was grabbed again, this time by his leg, and pulled to the ground again. 

"I climbed back up my tree stand and she persisted about four or five times," even after he'd climbed about two and half metres above the stand, Haydukewich said. 

His bow was lying on the ground far below him.

"I was jabbing her with an arrow. She kept coming at me and I kept stabbing her with one arrow."

The bloodied bear eventually left Haydukewich alone, but the attack took a toll on his body. The calf muscle on his left leg was torn, and about a foot of skin hung from his wrist.

"She bit me in the head somewhere along all this and my back. My back's all beat up from being drug around on the ground."

Weeks of rehab ahead

Haydukewich limped for about a kilometre to his truck and drove 10 minutes to his brother's home.

"There was a spot, when I was walking back to my truck, I thought I'd stop and have a little break and I thought to myself, 'If I stop, I'm not going to get back up. So I kept on walking.'"

He's now at the Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon with serious injuries and will require weeks of rehabilitation, he says.

He looks back on the attack as a "freak accident."

"I think she was just an angry bear. She didn't give no warning. Sometimes they do a fake charge. There was none of that. It just straight attacked."

'I want the teeth'

A conservation officer previously told CBC News the bear was likely protecting her cubs.

Traps have been set and samples will be sent away for analysis to confirm that the correct bear is found.

Meanwhile, officers have posted warning signs around the area and are advising everyone in wooded areas to be extra careful.

"Hopefully they find her," said a bitter Haydukewich. 

"Because I want the teeth, the claws, and the hide."

with files from Danny Kerslake

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